December 21st…

Two years ago…it happened.

As I was thinking about what to write today I got really stuck. I wasn’t sure what direction to go. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to emphasize the heartache that we all still feel very acutely, or if I wanted to assure everyone that we are doing well, thriving even…which is true. I thought about telling stories about my parents, which I love to do, but I didn’t know which ones to pick, none of them really seem to be good enough. I almost decided to give an update on all of us, but that just didn’t feel right this time. I know I did it last year but that was when we were all still nursing our many physical injuries. This year has been more about healing our emotional wounds.

The moment my parents died my heart ripped in two. One side filled with heartache and the other just broke. Sometimes I lie awake at night, when the world is fast asleep and take a walk down memory lane. Remembering them is easy, I do it everyday, missing them is hard.

I know that sounds really deep, but it is true. However, there are a few things that have brought all of us a little bit of peace. I can’t remember if I’ve shared this before, if I have please forgive me. My parents were incredibly prepared for…anything. Their will was set up impeccably, and allowed us to put their inheritance in a trust fund rather than have it appear to be income, which permitted us to keep the money instead of paying for all of our medical care out of pocket. But more profoundly are the steps that my mom took in case something happened to her. Let me emphasize that my mom was 57, in good health, and had no real reason to fear anything coming on so quickly. In their so called “death file” my mom had prepared a few things for all of us.

The first was a ring. Engraved around the outside it says: Jessie I am always with you. My siblings have similar rings. The second is that we each received a tiny little angel charm to go under our pillow so that my mom and dad can meet us in our dreams, and protect us in our sleep. The third was a message, written on a Post-it note, reminding us of a few things.The modified version reads (some things are just for us:-) ):

  • Share/split our possessions – store what you may want someday – let go of the rest
  • Stay close to each other – force yourselves even when you don’t feel like it – unconditional acceptance, support, & love will keep you connected & are lifetime gifts to treasure & take care of
  • Know that we are watching over you always. You don’t think I would let go of that, do you? 🙂 -And that the biggest, greatest, most wonderful gifts of my life were… YOU. ❤
  • You will be OK – you are all strong & centered. Be happy.
  • I love you forever & ever.

I hope that this inspires you to do something similar for your loved ones. This has been the most beautiful gift to us.

A while ago I came across this article on NPR All Things Considered and it really touched me. No matter what your faith is, it is always reassuring to have science back up what is in your heart. Aaron Freeman is a commentator and American journalist that gave this NPR performance titled Planning Ahead Can Make a Difference in the End. I’ve changed just a couple words to personalize this just a bit. I hope that NPR and Mr. Freeman will be okay with that and understand that I am using it in in the spirit that it was delivered.

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing children about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your daughters to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved mother remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping son that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would remind everyone that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your children are comforted in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let them know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are their eyes, that those photons created within their constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.
Here is a link to the original:

So, in the spirit of Tim and Cheryl light a candle tonight and let it burn bright and give your loved ones a kiss knowing that nothing quite lasts forever. Mom and dad loved the holidays; they had a way of inviting everyone into the folds of our family. You don’t get to pick your family, but you only get one. Treasure the good things in each other and have a very Merry Christmas!!!

And of course I wanted to include this video again – I LOVE seeing them.


9 thoughts on “December 21st…

  1. Thank you, Jessie. I’ve been thinking about all of you, and remembering your folks. This is perfect and so appropriate for all of us. Thank you for keeping in touch with us this way.

  2. Jesse, I had dinner tonight with a woman you have never met – but she knows your story – and since she’s also friends with Liz P – keeps up with your progress. She said, ” her story makes a difference to me every day, today I was carrying my daughter down the stairs and slipped – recovered, then thought, it all changes in a heartbeat, just like JESSE, concentrate on all the goodness that you have right now…..” – what a precious gift you and your magnificent parents have given to the world. Merry Christmas little one – you and your family are such an inspiration to so many of us.

  3. Jess, was thinking about you all, as I often do. I prayed for Gods comfort and peace for your family. Thank you for yet another beautifully worded and written message. You are such a gift and it is a blessing that you are sharing some of your gift with us. You really do inspire me to be a better person. Glad Jeremy is doing better. I wish you all a time of celebrating memories of the past and your hopes for the future this Christmas. Much love Patty Osterhout

  4. Wow. Such a beautiful post and the video speaks to what an amazing family you have Jessie and how incredible your parents were. I remember so much of that video and it brought me to tears, made me laugh and was an awesome tribute. I think of you a often, thank you for sharing.

  5. You have no idea how much you have influenced our family, you all are in our daily prayers and such an inspiration. As a teacher you inspired our granddaughter so much. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about your family. God bless all of you. Your parents are so proud! Hugs

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